There isn’t a core sales competency either! The sales as a competency does not exist in isolation anymore. If you are a sales guy and just “negotiations”, “bidding”, “references”, “strong customer base” without much of the “backing” is of no use in the long term.
The backing is the knowledge of the product or services you are selling; knowledge about the vast fields of your market including competition, technology and trends. Today’s sales guy has to offer choices, integration, solution – in a single meeting with the customer (sometimes the only meeting) – apart from RoI, features and demonstration. You have to the master of that “one” meeting.
Selling a product Solving a problem
If you are a product sales guy, you are NOT selling your product. You are solving a pain-point of a customer. You need to know:
- What are the pain-points the customer have. Know the pain points of the target market overall. Study the pain points of a specific customer you are meeting.
- Which of these problems is your product solving. Know your product thoroughly. If it is a technology product, you need to get a first hand experience of the product and features.
- What configuration options are available that the customers can vary.
- What all integration are supported so that you can offer options to integrate with existing market solutions.
- Your product deep-down. A lot more than any of your prospective customer know from outside.
Only when you know your product, you can offer solution to the problem of a customer rather than selling a product. Even though it’s just price differentiation.
Selling a Service Providing a Solution
If you are selling services, it is not a lot different from selling a product. It’s just that you have to be even more wide in the knowledge about the bouquet of services and , quite often, have to assemble a new set of bouquet during each of the customer meetings. In services, you cannot even go out selling until you know the problem; and after understanding the problem you need to assemble your services to “provide the solution”.
So if you a software services sales guy, you can hardly do much with the sales skills alone. You are not a sales guy, you are a solution architect. Software sales guy must have basic to intermediate solution architecture skills. Today’s software sales guy would need to
- Understand the problem (which means she understands the entire technology stack and services)
- Reach onto a basic solution out of the services he provides.
- Perform initial scoping so that basic costing range can be discussed.
- Understand the technology so that he can fit the technologies in the solution for the basic understanding at least. He just can’t be oblivion to where MySQL or MongoDB fits in and what advantages Spring or Hibernate provides or what cost advantages the AWS or Rackspace have
In a nutshell-
you are not a sales guy, you are the solution architect, the problem solver and and the product